Protein denaturation has been shown to occur in cells during heat shock and is closely correlated with the cellular responses to hyperthermia; however, little is known about protein denaturation in tissue. This study describes an analysis of endothermic transitions in the hyperthermic region using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) in liver, white muscle, and lens tissue from Wistar rat, New Zealand white rabbit, and Rainbow trout. Complex DSC profiles consisting of several transitions were obtained for each tissue. Evidence is given that these transitions are due primarily to protein denaturation. Onset temperatures of denaturation (Tl) for rat liver, muscle, and lens are about 38, 39 and 48 degrees C, respectively. Thus, significant protein denaturation occurs in liver and muscle during mild hyperthermia (40-45 degrees C) with lens considerably more stable. The values of Tl for the same tissue from the different animals correlates well with body temperature (rabbit 39.4, rat 38.2, and trout grown at 11 degrees C); Tl increased in the same order as the body temperature for each tissue. Thus, there is correlation between the onset temperature for protein denaturation in these tissues and body temperature.